Though more than four months have passed since the Madras High Court directed the Chennai Corporation and the traffic police to take action against commercial establishments that cordon off public space to use it as visitors' parking area, the practice seems to continue in many places.
Abdul Rahim, a resident of T. Nagar, says that a private hospital on G.N. Chetty Road has even put up a sign that reads ‘Only for doctors' outside its premises. He says a major hospital in Kilpauk has cordoned off an entire road and uses it for parking.
“There are attendants, who restrict others from parking their vehicles. They are good at apportioning to themselves what belongs to public,” he adds. Some banking establishments on Rajai Salai and shops on General Patters Road still use such “attendants” to take over use public space.
P. Venkat, who filed a police complaint after he was restrained from parking in public space, says, “Commercial establishments think that they own space on public roads.” When he was prevented from parking on the road outside a commercial complex on Govinda Naicken Street in Parrys, Mr.Venkat filed a complaint, “but nothing happened even after that.”
M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), says that it was the responsibility of the Corporation to take action against the “encroachers” as all roads in the city belong to them. “They have the powers to even seize the vehicles that are parked illegally. They should put up ‘No Parking' boards and restrain private establishments from taking over public space.”
Nearly 3,000 cases of ‘illegal parking' are booked every day, says Mr. Ravi, but action against specific establishments has to be undertaken by the Corporation.
Despite the court direction, no consultations have been held between the Corporation and the police on how to tackle the problem.
According to a parking attendant at a restaurant on Whites Road that still has a sign board beneath a nearby flyover that reads ‘exclusive parking area for hotel customers,' the space is no longer an exclusive parking space. “The board will be removed shortly,” says the attendant.
Corporation Commissioner D. Karthikeyan says, “We will certainly not allow the establishments to monopolise public paid parking areas. We will take action against such establishments.”
Chennai Corporation officials say that they have stopped collecting a ‘lump sum licensee fee' for earmarking notified public parking space for private establishments, as per the court directive.
Exclusive parking areas for establishments in paid public parking areas are not permitted, Mr.Karthikeyan says. There are 85 paid parking areas in the city. Parking attendants appointed by the Tamil Nadu Ex-Servicemen Corporation (TEXCO) are enforcing the tariff for parking in the areas.
(With inputs from Ajai Sreevatsan, Aloysius Lopez and Petlee Peter)